The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47891   Message #849432
Posted By: GUEST,Donal
18-Dec-02 - 12:46 AM
Thread Name: Water Is Wide - First American Version
Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
The following extract was published in 1897, it doesn't add anything to the question about the first American "Waly,Waly", but I think it is an interesting addition to the Waly/Jamie Douglas corpus
       D. O'C

Waly, Waly
On the Antrim version of "Waly, Waly." U.J.A. Series II Vol. 3 Pages 144/148.

Judging from the number of ballads containing: verses from " Waly, Waly," it must have been widely known and very popular in Scotland some three centuries ago, though it never appeared in a permanent literary form until 1725, when a fragment of four verses was printed in the first edition of Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius. About the same time Allan Ramsay was publishing his Tea Table Miscellany (1724-7), and in it the ballad first appeared in the form in which we have it now. In 1733 the second edition of the Orpheus Caledonius was issued, and this time the ballad was given in full, containing as did the edition of 1735 also a verse not found in Ramsay's version, and which has been rejected as spurious by every editor since the time of Percy until now. No further publication is known until that in the first edition of the 'Reliques' (1765). In this edition, Percy seems to have used both Ramsay's and Thomson's versions. He gives it with the following note : *

So far, the history of the ballad is quite clear; but in 1776, Herd, in the second edition of his Scottish Songs, printed five stanzas of a ballad called "Jamie Douglas," which contained verses also found in " Waly, Waly." Since that time the industry of collectors has unearthed some fourteen or fifteen other versions of the "Jamie Douglas" ballad, all of which contain verses also found in "Waly,Waly;" and so a fierce war of words has arisen as to which is the original: whether " Waly, Waly" is simply made up of verses taken from "Jamie Douglas," or "Jamie Douglas" is a totally different ballad, the authors of which plagiarised from the already well-known and popular " Waly, Waly." Critics were for some time pretty fairly divided in their opinions, but the tendency of more recent literature is in favour of the priority and independence of "Waly, Waly." The peculiar interest of this Antrim version is that it contains, besides the stanzas found in "Waly, Waly," one found in "Jamie Douglas" alone.

We shall first give the text here, and the parallel verses in the other ballads, and then note the points worthy of interest.

* "This is a very ancient song, but we could only give it from a modern copy." The copy used seems to have been the London edition of Thomson, as it varies slightly from Ramsay's version just where Thomson varies However, he must have known of Ramsay's edition also, as he rejects the verse not found in 'The Tea Table Miscellany'.

From the recitation of Mary O'Donnell, Toberdoney, Dervock, Co. Antrim.
Oh! Johnnie, Johnnie,1 but love is bonnie,
A wee while just when it is new ; 2
But when it's old, love, it then grows cold,        love
And fades away like the morning dew.        

Oh! Johnnie, Johnnie, but you are nice, love,
You are the first love that ere I had ; 3
You are the first love that ere I had,        
So come kiss me, Johnnie, before ye gang.        

One kiss of my lips you ne'er shall get, love,        
Nor in my arms 4 you ne'er shall lie,        
Until you grant me that one request, love,
That oftentime you did me deny.        

All for to grant you that one request, love,        
I might as well on you my heart bestow;
For as good a lover as you may come,
And who can hinder your 5 love to go.        

It's love doth come, yes,6 and love doth go,
Like the wee sma'7 birds intill their nests;
If it's 8 to tell you all that I know,
The lad's naw here that I love best.        

If he was here that's to be my dear
I'd cast those angry frowns away;
If he was here that's to be my dear,        
I'd scarce have power to say him nay,        

It's ower the moss, love, ye needna cross, love,
Nor through the mire ye needna ride;        
For I hae gotten a new sweetheart, love,
And you may to choose your ain self a bride.9        

It's had I known, the first time I kissed you,        
Young woman's heart's love were so hard to win.
I would have locked it all in a chest, love,
And screwed it tight with a silver pin.        


" O, Waly, Waly! but love be bonny,
A little time while it is new
But when 'tis auld it waxeth cauld,
And fades away like morning dew."
Waly, Waly, verse iii., from Tea Table Miscellany.        

"Hey, trollie, lollie, love is jollie,
A quhile quhil itt is new,
Quhen it is old, it grows full cold;
Wae worth the love untrue."
Woods MS., 1620.        

"Oh ! Johnie, Johnie,l but love is bonnie,
A little while when it is new
But when love grows aulder, it grows mair caulder,
And it fades awa like the mornin' dew."
Motherwell's MS., p. 299. Child's version, J - 2,        

"I've heard it said, and it's often seen
The hawk that flies far frae her nest
And a' the world shall plainly see
It's Jamie Douglas that I lose best."
Kinlock's MSS., V. 387. Child's, B-14.        

"The linnet is a bonnie bird,
And often flees far frae its nest;
So all the world may plainly see
They're far awa that I luve best."
Motherwell's MS., p. 500. Child's, I-16.        

"It's often said in a foreign land
That the hawk she flies far from her nest
It's often said, and it's very true,
He's far from me this day that I love best. "
Motherwell's MS., p.345. Child's, G _l6.        

" It's 'very true, and it's often said,
The hawk she's flown and she's left her nest
But a' the world may plainly see
They're far awa that I luve best."
Mothewell's MS., p. 297. Child's, H -12,        

"But had I wist, before I kissed,        
That love had been sae ill to win,        
I'd locked my heart in a case of gold,        
And pin'd it with a silver pin.'
" Waly, Waly," V-9        

"But gin I had wist or I had kisst,
That young man's love was sae ill to win
I would hae lockt my heart wi' a key o' gowd
And pinn'd it wi a sillar pin."
Motherwell's MS., p. 507. Child's, F-3.        

"If I had known what I know now
That love it was sae ill to win,
I should ne'er hae wet my cherry cheek
For onie man or woman's son."
Motherwell's MS., p. 299. Child's, J-7.        

" Oh if I had nere been born,
Than to have died when I was young!
Then I had never wet my cheeks
For the love of any woman's son."        

"Arthur's seat shall be my bed."
Laine's Broadside Baliads No. 61
Child's Eng. and Scot. Ballads, vii. 105.
(Edit. 1890.)


1. Motherwell suggested that " Johnie, Johnie " in his version was a corruption for " nonnie; nonnie," as there is no character named ''Johnie'' in the plot of the "Jamie Douglas" ballad. It is just possible that the name has been taken from the Antrim version.

2. A variation of the second line is " A little time while it is new," but I prefer the more archaic version, though this agrees more closely with Allan Ramsay's, because it is more likely that the older form has been modernised than that the original has been Doricised; and, besides, Ramsay was as fond of repolishing these "auld sangs" as the Bishop himself, so that his versions cannot always be considered literally indisputable..

3. A variation of the third line is " You are the first love that ere I knew." It was probably for variety's sake.

4. Pronounced "a-rums.".

5. A variation for " your love " is " you, love.".

6. " Yes " is often omitted..

7. For " wee sma " I have heard " little small.".

8. For " it's " some say " it was.".

9. These two last lines are sometimes sung thus:
" For I hae gotten a new sweetheart, and you
May go choose your ain self a bride.".

From the verses given it will be observed that there are three parallels to the 1st, four to the 5th, and three to the 8th verse; and that the parallels to the 5th verse are all taken from the "Jamie Douglas" set, and none from "Waly, Waly." This is a very important fact, because it suggests three possible explanations as to the origin of this balladã.

1. That the author of this ballad knew both the "Waly, Waly " and the "Jamie Douglas " set, and plagiarised from both..

2. That it is a much older ballad than either "Waly, Waly" or "Jamie Douglas," and that the authors of these ballads plagiarised from it..

3. That it is a ballad intermediate in date between "Waly, Waly," and "Jamie Douglas;" preserved in an imperfect state; containing verses out of " Waly, Waly," and itself furnishing at least one verse to the "Jamie Douglas " set..

If the first and more obvious theory be correct, it would imme diately settle the date of the ballad to be later than I681, because the incidents celebrated in the "Jamie Douglas" ballads happened between the years 1670-81. The first date is that of the marriage of Lady Barbara Erskine to James, 2nd Marquis Douglas; the second is that of their legal separation. The ballad itself is the lament of Lady Barbara over the separation, and her account of the slanders of Lowrie of Blackwood, owing to which the divorce was obtained..

If, then, this Antrim version derived verses from "Jamie Douglas," it is obviously not possibly older than 1681. Such was our own opinion for some time, but on looking into the matter, and comparing the natural way in which verse 5 comes into the context with the awkward manner in which its parallels appear in "Jamie Douglas," it occurred to us that, if anything, the plagiarism was on the side of the author of "Jamie Douglas." On sending the ballad for inspection to Professor Child, this idea was greatly strengthened, for he wrote in reply " It is extremely probable that the nest, etc., in 5 is the origin of the rather incongruous passages in B, G, H, I, of 'Jamie Douglas' which you refer to.".

If it is of an older date than "Waly, Waly," it was probably        written before 1600. This is about as close as we can go, since the        date of "Waly, Waly" has not been definitely settled. Aytoun, in the 1st edition of the 'Ballads of Scotland', maintained that it was written prior to 1566..

["There is also evidence that it was written before 1556, for there is extant a MS. of that date in which it is transcribed." (Ballads of Scolland, i. 130, ed. 1858). This MS. mentioned by Aytoun was transcribed by Thomas Wode from        an old psalter compiled by Dean Angus, Andrew Blackhall, and others. It contains the following verse, which is supposed to be a parody on "Waly, Waly":

"Hey, trollie, lollie, love is jolly,
A quhile quhil itt is new,
Quhen it is old, it grows full cold,
Wae worth the love untrue. "        .

Maidment (Scotlish Ballads and Songs, 1868) doubts whether this be a parody or not, but admits, nevertheless, that the ballad is ancient. There exists also an old ballad, "Arthur's Seat shall be my Bed," which contains verses like some found in " Waly, Waly," and which is said to have been printed before the Tea Table Miscellany. ].

Stenhouse tried to connect it with a court scandal in the reign of        Mary Queen of Scots, several ballads on which exist. Maidment        denies the connection, whilst admitting that the ballad is ancient; so agreeing with its first editor, Allan Ramsay, and with the author of the 'Reliques'. This consensus of opinion makes one place it some where about 1600, and so, if the Antrim version is more ancient still, its date must be prior to this.        .

Unfortunately, the imperfect state in which it has been preserved        hardly justifies one in maintaining such an hypothesis. It is evidently in a very fragmentary condition: no connected plot can be made out; the two characters are self-contradictory; and so it hardly seems logical to assume, since we have only the fragments of a ballad to judge from, that a clear, well-told pathetic ballad like "Waly, Waly" has been plagiarised from it.

If, then, we reject this hypothesis, we are reduced to the third and last, namely, that the Antrim version contains stanzas from "Waly, Waly," and has itself given verse 5 in various forms to the "Jamie Douglas " set, and perhaps the variation " Johnie, Johnie " in Motherwell's ballad (J-2). This would of course place its date somewhere between those of the two other ballads; and if we assume that Aytoun's argument is correct, and that "Waly, Waly" was written before 1566, there is then no difficulty in our also supposing that the ballad came to Ireland as early as the date of the Ulster Plantation.